§ MR. P. A. TAYLOR
* said:—The Motion of which I have given Notice runs as follows:—That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable to give greater facilities for recreation of a moral and intellectual character by permitting the opening of Museums, Libraries, and similar institutions on Sunday.483 In asking the favourable consideration of the House upon this question I feel an unusually weighty responsibility; but I have to propose a Motion which, in my opinion, is in harmony with the spirit of the age. I have to propose a Motion which I believe will meet with the acceptance of a large proportion of the educated and thoughtful classes of the community, and which I believe is in accordance with the real opinions of the large majority of this House. I have to propose in a word, something which, in my opinion, is absolutely right in itself, and the principle of which and the advances towards that principle are the most moderate that can well be imagined. The last time there was a division on this subject in this House was, I believe, in the year 1856–18 years ago, when the Motion was defeated by an overwhelming majority, and it cannot be complained by those who take an opposite view to that which I shall endeavour to support to-night, that in this struggle we have been continually urging our views upon the public. Nor should I have brought forward this question during the present Session had I not thought that there was ample reason to believe that a great change had taken place in the opinions of the country and of this House. If, therefore, the question does not receive a favourable solution to-night it will, at any rate, at no great distance of time do so. If, then, I should not be successful in obtaining the vote of the House it will be difficult altogether to divest myself of the opinion that some fault must rest upon the proposer. I can only entreat the House to consider the justice of the cause, and not to allow it to suffer through the shortcomings, or, what may be worse, the supposed far goings of its humble advocate. One evidence of favourable change was given by a division in 1863 upon a Motion to open the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens on Sunday. I need not remind the House that any question which touches Sunday observances meets with a very poor chance when it gets North of the Tweed, and yet upon that question the majority against the opening was only 16, and the then Premier (Viscount Palmerston) declared that he entirely agreed with the principle of the opening, but bearing in mind the peculiar views of Scotchmen upon the question he could not vote for the Mo- 484 tion. Among the evidences of the change which has taken place in public opinion on the question since 1856, I may mention first one that occurs as from the mere lapse of time. The crowded populations of our great cities have become more crowded still, and as we may hope and believe that our population has become more educated and more competent, and therefore knowing the benefits of a higher culture, the demand for this sort of higher recreation will naturally have increased. I will mention as another evidence of change that in 1860 a Memorial was addressed to the Queen having for its object precisely that which I propose to-night, which was signed by nearly 1,000 gentlemen distinguished in the pursuits of literature, science, and the fine arts. Of course, I cannot trouble the House with more than a few of the names that were appended to perhaps the most remarkable Memorial ever presented to the Crown. Amongst them were the names of Thackeray, Dickens, Mill, Douglas Jerrold, William Howitt, Sir Arthur Helps, Sir William Jenner, Sir John Herschell, Sir Roderick Murchison, General Sir John Burgoyne, Sir Henry Holland, Dr. Lyon Playfair, Sir Charles Lyell, Professor Owen, Charles Babbage, and John Sheepshanks. I mention especially the last named gentleman, because it seems to me that we are almost perpetrating a fraud on his generosity. It was well understood when he left his magnificent collection of paintings to the public that it was with the desire that they should be open to the public on the only day on which, at any rate, the working and a large portion of the middle classes have an opportunity of viewing them. I may also mention a Petition which has been presented to the House, signed by about 200 clergymen and ministers in favour of my Motion. The House would find amongst those names a large proportion of names respected throughout the country. I will only mention among them the Rector of Bethnal Green—the district in which the question of the opening of the Bethnal Green Museum excited so much interest—three Chaplains in Ordinary to Her Majesty, the Dean of Westminster, the Master of Baliol College, Oxford. I will also mention the name of Sir Henry Thompson in connection with this question, because in a letter written by him, he 485 has given a new and especially valuable character to our demand—namely, as affecting the sanitary condition of our population. Speaking at the annual soiree of the Theological Total Abstinence Union, New College, St. John's Wood, he said—All men of action, whether educated or not, require a foil of some kind to their hours of blank toil, they need a totally different condition of the nervous system which shall be a relaxation from that which exists during the strain of prolonged labour.In the absence of this for the people he adds—Do you wonder then that they seek that elevation of spirit, that buoyancy of heart which can be bought for so many pence. Therefore, we should, on all days, especially on Sundays—at least in the afternoon and evening—see that our coffee houses, reading rooms, libraries, museums, and picture galleries are open for the working men. Much as I want my own Sunday's rest, occupied as I am, I would gladly devote a part of it to accompany a party of working men round our National Gallery, to cultivate their tastes there to an extent to which I might be able. I can say this, because I accepted a like duty some years ago, on Saturday afternoons, and this is work in which I hold that you might be well and righteously employed, and this is what you must do if you would really win the working man from drink.I may notice, also, a great falling off in the number who petitioned against my Motion. In 1856, there were 629,000; in 1866, there were 150,000. They were considerable last year, but this year there are very few indeed. I should be glad to infer from this not merely a change of public opinion upon the subject, but also a favourable change in regard to the honesty with which these signatures were obtained. Now, I am always loath to take exception to the mode of getting up Petitions; there is necessarily a considerable licence allowed, and such charges are easily made and difficult to be refuted, but I do think that in this case the House will agree with me that the ordinary licence was altogether overstepped. I have before me statements from two clergymen and one gentleman who gives his name and address, all from the same district, who call attention to the fact that in their district Petitions were got up by young girls signing for their whole family, and signing moreover three times over, first at Sunday schools, then at home, and again at public meetings. As one of the clergymen says pathetically, "Religious people are so unscru- 486 pulous as to means." A gentleman further states that to his knowledge collectors have called at the houses of working men well known to be favourable to this question, representing to their wives that unless they signed for their husbands they would be compelled to work on Sundays and get no pay for it. I have noticed with regret something of the same sort of spirit in connection with a recent deputation to the Duke of Richmond, introduced by the Earl of Shaftesbury. On that occasion a statement was put into the hands of the noble Earl—which, on being afterwards asked for an explanation, he avowed he had no personal knowledge of—stating that the members of that deputation represented various societies of the working classes; and the noble Earl was made to state that the opinion of the working classes of this country was all but unanimous against my proposition. In the course of a correspondence it was afterwards admitted that although there were indeed upon the deputation members of various trades and unions, there had been no form whatever of deputing or of delegation, and they no more represented the working classes in general, or those trades in particular, than it could have been said if a solitary redcoat had happened to stray into the room, that the whole British Army was represented. As an answer to such observations a careful canvass was undertaken by the Sunday League of a number of trade societies, clubs, shops, and so forth, through members of their own bodies. I have before me the result of such canvass. There are a large number of tailors' shops in London, varying from 240 to 18 or 20 hands. The general result is that of the 79 shops so canvassed—there have been more since, I believe, but that is all I have before me—there were absolutely unanimous in favour of my Motion 38; all but unanimous—that is, with but one or two exceptions, 30; and of the remaining 11 the general majority was perfectly overwhelming. I hold in my hand certificates in every case from the official of each shop or society. I have every reason to believe that the canvass was honestly carried out, and that the result is accurately stated. It is my candid opinion that if the working classes of this country could be polled, there would be a large majority in favour of 487 opening museums and libraries on Sundays; but, at any rate, it cannot be the fact to say that hardly any of the working classes are in its favour. The fact that I have the honour of addressing the House now is a sufficient testimony. At the last election I found myself famous one morning in Leicester as a champion of desecration. I am not in the habit of concealing my opinions, whether popular or not—the question was discussed again and again at public meetings, and the result was that I was returned by a majority larger, I apprehend, than most hon. Gentlemen can boast of. The same may be said also in regard to Hackney, where also the question was largely canvassed, and the result was the return of my hon. Friend (Mr. Fawcett), whom we are all so glad to see here again, also by a large majority; so that I believe—in fact, it may be said—that in the only two constituencies where this was made a vital question, the friends of freedom on this point were returned by large majorities. Again, I may mention another incident which, as I think, largely tended to mature public opinion on this question. The hon. Baronet the Member for Lisburn (Sir Richard Wallace), with a magnificent generosity which has earned him the respect, I am sure, of every Member of this House, as it has earned him the gratitude of the people of the Bethnal Green district, sent his magnificent collection of pictures there for the benefit of the population, and then it was found that, contrary to his understood wishes, as well as to common sense, the people were shut out from any opportunity of viewing this collection on the only day when they could, at least, with any convenience or leisure, derive any benefit from it. The hon. Gentleman might have purchased a palace in Piccadilly, and filled it with all the finest pictures in the world, he might have opened it, and sent tickets of admission to all the tipper ten thousand, he might have had a line of carriages outside half-a-mile along, every Sunday, and no blame would have attached to him, or those who availed themselves of his benevolence. It is only when the working and trading classes of the eastern districts are sought to be benefited, that we step in and refuse permission, and this has been done against the most strenuous and honourable exertions of 488 the pastor of the district—to whom be all honour for the exertions he has made—the Rev. Septimus Hansard—and who testified openly that, in his opinion, nothing but good could result from the exhibition on Sunday afternoons of Sir Richard Wallace's pictures in the Bethnal Green Museum; and, he adds, and I commend the words to the attention of my religious friends—"If the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath, much more so was the Christian Sunday." But the change on which I would principally rely, is the advance that has taken place in the last 20 years in the principles of universal toleration and of religious liberty, for the House will observe that this is not a question of the abstract correctness of one set of opinions or of another; it is a question of the right of every man to decide upon it for himself—it is a question of toleration versus persecution. It has been well said—Though the feeling which breaks out in the repeated attempts to stop railway travelling on a Sunday, in the resistance to the opening of museums and the like has not the cruelty of the old persecutors, the state of mind indicated by it is found eventually the same. It is a determination not to tolerate others in doing what is permitted by their religion because it is not permitted by a persecutor's religion.And this is a lesson which I think has been especially impressed upon Nonconformists during the past few years. There is no class of the community for whom I have a greater respect than for the Nonconformists, and it cannot be denied that amongst the opponents to my proposition would, until lately, have been found those earnest and religious men. But their views have, I think, lately undergone a remarkable change. Under the re-actionary leadership of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster), the Dissenters of England have learned this great lesson in its fullest meaning—namely, that those who demand perfect religious equality for themselves must be prepared to grant that full religious liberty to all others. My hon. Friend who is to oppose me to-night has, I see, lately, so to speak, read himself into the great organization which is banded together to disestablish the English Church. I am glad to welcome him as a member of that society; but he will, I hope, excuse my observing that, in opposing my Motion to-night, he would seem to show that he has not 489 mastered, to the fullest extent, those principles of religious liberty which should logically be held by those who would undertake the overthrow of a dominant Church. Now, Sir, I wish I could pass by altogether what is called the religious side of this question. The House is not fond of such discussions, nor am I; but it has seemed to me impossible altogether to avoid it, seeing that it is at the very root and base of the opposition to the measure which I propose. When we are told on religious grounds that it is wicked to do on one day in a week what it is harmless or even praiseworthy to do on the other six, it is impossible to avoid examining the foundation of that religious dogma, and the sanctions to which it makes appeal. I know my hon. Friend would gladly accept my declaration that we would avoid altogether the discussion of the religious side of the question; but I know by sad experience too well what that would mean. My hon. Friend would avoid the discussion, it is true; but in his argument he would simply take for granted that which had been left undiscussed, and in the first few sentences of his speech I feel no doubt that we should hoar him declare that the proposition which I had made was one contrary to the laws of the Almighty, in violation of the ordinances of Christianity, and such therefore as no nation could adopt with a hope to obtain the blessing of Providence. It will not, however, be necessary for me to do more than merely touch upon that view of the question, and for this reason—that I do not desire to attack the correctness of the views held by my hon. Friend and his party, nor to assert in contradiction the correctness of my own. I am sure, if I were desirous of conducting such an argument, the House would naturally decline to accept me as a teacher on such a question. But my contention is not that our views in regard to the sanctity of Sunday are correct, but that it is a question on which all classes of the community have an entire right to judge for themselves. I shall, therefore, only show by a few authorities that there is at least much to be said for our view of the question; and therefore no reason whatever for taking it out of the ordinary ground of the entire right of all classes and individuals to decide the matter according to their own con- 490 sciences. Now, my hon. Friend will not deny for a moment that I can bring against his views of the question a cloud of witnesses, that I can produce to him learned theologians, acute Biblical critics, and pious Divines, established and non-established, who would tell my hon. Friend that, in their opinion, his opposition to my Motion on the ground of its being against the ordinances of Christianity is a pure delusion; that, in fact, he is attempting to transform a Jewish law into a Christian superstition. They would remind my hon. Friend that the law for the observance of the Sabbath was a Jewish law for the observance of the seventh day or Sabbath—what we call Saturday—and that it was in avowed commemoration of the most tremendous event which could occur in the history of the world. They would remind my hon. Friend that it is not a light thing to transfer a solemnity from one day to another, and they would defy my hon. Friend to find a single passage in the Scriptures authorizing the transference of the obligations of the Sabbath by the Jews to the first day by the Christians. In a word, they would tell my hon. Friend that if he seeks to oppose my Motion upon the basis of the fourth commandment, he is bound to keep holy the Sabbath Day, and not the first. There is, in fact, I am told, a sect of Christians who consistently carry out these views. They are known as the Seventh Day Baptists, and they are the only sect who enjoin the observance of the Jewish Sabbath in the moral code of Christianity. If my hon. Friend should feel inclined to join that body he would be an eminent gain to it, even in point of numbers, for he would increase their body more than 5 per cent, seeing that their number consists, including parson and clerk, of but 16 individuals. The authorities to which I have referred would even remind my hon. Friend that the Founder of Christianity himself was reviled and denounced by the authorities of his day precisely because he refused to accept their interpretation of the observance of their Sabbath; and they would remind him that the great Apostle Paul contemptuously rejected the binding necessity of keeping the Jewish Sabbath, declaring that as regarded one day more than another, nothing was asked but that every man should be fully persuaded in his own mind; and therefore they would tell my hon. Friend that 491 if he desired to found his opposition to my Resolution upon the ground of its being in opposition to the principles of Christianity, he would have to confess that he was more Christian than the Founder of Christianity himself. In fact, he would be like the old Scotchwoman spoken of by Dr. Doran, who, on pronouncing that to walk on the Sabbath Day was a deadly sin, was reminded that Jesus himself had walked in the cornfields on the Sabbath Day, to which she replied, "Ah, weel, it is as ye say, but I think nane the better o' him for it." As a matter of history, I may remind my hon. Friend that the early Christians neither did nor could observe the first day in the week in the way indicated by his opposition to my Motion—that, in fact, for upwards of 1,000 years the very name of Sabbath, as applied to the first day in the week, was unknown. It was not, in fact, till the beginning of the 16th century that this heresy showed in any force. In 1516 Erasmus observed with regretthe tendency towards Judaism, excited by a revival of Hebrew literature, and strongly characterized it as a "pest the most dangerous to Christianity." In fact, even in Scotland, up to 1647, when the "Westminster Confession was adopted, the standard of the Church of Scotland was silent as to the duty of keeping holy the Sabbath day, as may be seen by reference to the original Confession prepared by John Knox in 1560. In truth, the Sabbatical heresy is one that we owe to our Puritan forefathers of 300 years back, and a pretty legacy it has proved. They said and did many wise and noble things; but urged, I suppose, by a violent re-action against the vices and debaucheries of a corrupt Court, they unfortunately took to themselves, and have left to us for our misfortune, this piece of austere superstition. Now, it appears to me that I can especially appeal to the Tory Government for a reversal of this policy. They can have nothing in common with Puritanism; they are untouched by its vices, and untainted by its virtues. I should have hoped, also, that I might make a special appeal to the noble Lord whom I see opposite (Lord John Manners) for support upon this measure. I should have expected to find him desirous rather of giving again to the people the old sports and pastimes to which the Puritans put a stop, than of opposing the 492 worst portion of the legacy which they have left us. It is, therefore, to about the date of the Reformation that we have to date the first rise of the Sabbatarian superstition, and it is remarkable that the great names of the era—those of whom we are accustomed to speak as the Fathers of the Reformation—were entirely opposed to the principles of Sabbatarianism. Cranmer, in his Catechism, which was published in 1548, says—And here note, good children, that the Jews, in the Old Testament, wore commanded to keep the Sabhath day, and they observed every seventh day, called the Sabbath, or Saturday. But we Christian men, in the New Testament, are not bound to such Commandments of Moses' law concerning differences of times, days, and meats.Calvin, again, denies it with more than his ordinary violence, and declares that those who now cling to them go thrice as far as the Jews themselves in their gross and carnal superstition of Sabbath worship. Luther, moreover, is no less emphatic. He declares of the Sabbath, or Sunday, in speaking of the Ten Commandments, that there is no necessity for its observance, and if anyone insists on these observances as a religious obligation, he adds—Then I order you to work on it, to ride on it, to dance on it, to feast on it; to do anything that shall reproach this encroachment on the Christian spirit and liberty.And now I shall ask the House to allow me to read one more extract as an authority against the Sabbatarian principle from a modern divine, and one, I believe, held in considerable reverence and repute. I allude to the Rev. James Cranbrook, of Edinburgh—this opinion of his alone would really be sufficient for my purpose, which is no more than to show that the views which I hold can be honestly held by intelligent and religious men, and notably by clergymen of the Church of England, in order to demand the entire right of private judgment. He says—The Scriptural argument is as clear as any argument can be, and it is directly and absolutely against the Sabbatarians. The whole spirit and genius of Christianity, as taught by Paul, as well as the special texts, are directly and diametrically opposed to the conceptions upon which the law of the Sabbath is founded. The writer of the epistles ascribed to Paul, could no more have fallen in with the notion of keeping the Sabbath as modern divines insisted upon its being kept, than he could have consented to 493 perpetuate the Jewish sacrifices. They who insist upon the Sabbath laws, are undoubtedly hostile to the spirit and religion of Paul.It is further 'worthy of remark, that even at the times to which I have been referring—in the 16th and 17th centuries—Sabbatarianism was neither customary nor legal in this country. In the year 1599 (Elizabeth) one Dr. Bounds published A Book of the Sabbath, maintaining the divine obligation in 11 theses. This book was presented to the Lord Chief Justice Popham, at the Assizes at Bury St. Edmund's, as teaching doctrine contrary to law and to the Church. He gave judgment that—" The Sabbath doctrine agreed neither with the laws of the Realm nor with the doctrines of the Church," and condemned Dr. Bounds for publishing it. It must be remembered, also, that this Sabbatarian heresy neither is, nor was, at any time the creed of Christendom, nor oven of Protestant Christendom. It settled in its fullest virulence in Great Britain, and especially in Great Britain north of the Tweed, and in the New England States of America. And what a thing it was where it settled in its fullest virulence. It was a system under which intelligence, morality, and natural affections were offered up on the altar of an austere superstition. I have before me a draft—said to be by I Cotton, a Puritan minister—of the laws of Massachusetts on this subject. Under them nothing could legally be done upon the Sunday, nor work, nor travelling, nor sports, nor recreations. No one was allowed to run, or walk in his garden or elsewhere, except reverently to and from meeting. It was forbidden to travel, or cook victuals, to make beds, sweep house, cut hair, or shave; no mother was allowed to kiss her child, and no wife her husband, and the penalty for this offence was first a forfeit of 40s., or be publicly whipped; but if it was done presumptuously, the person or persons would be put to death, or otherwise severely punished, at the discretion of the Court. But, it may be said, why refer to these times, when the spirit of the institution is so much changed and moderated, and no more exists in its fullest vigour than does the Inquisition. Sir, I am unable altogether to take that view of it. The spirit of Sabbatarianism is now, as it has always been, tyrannous, intolerant, and aggressive. It is continually seek- 494 ing to cut off the innocent enjoyments and intellectual recreation of the people of this country, as well as to put society in general to all sorts of needless inconveniences, by stopping, especially on Sundays, omnibuses and railways, and postal and telegraphic means of communication; and I confess, in my opinion, it is high time we put a stop to all legal recognition and enforcement of Sabbatarian views, for those who hold them are not content even with powers they now have, but are continually endeavouring to increase them. I have said that they are seeking to stop railways and steamboats, and such means of communication; but I might go much further, for it seems doubtful whether, if no stop be put to their exactions—in Scotland, at any rate—people will be long allowed to walk upon a Sunday. That I may not be thought in any way to exaggerate, I will ask the House to allow me to read a few words uttered at the last meeting of the General Assembly of the Free Church, and spoken, be it remembered, by two of the most free-thinking and moderate gentlemen who took part in the discussion. Major Ross, elder of Aberdeen, said—In regard to walking on the Sabbath, that was a point which he thought they ought to approach with great circumspection and care in the Assembly. He would say that there must be some substitute devised. He did not defend Sabbath walking, but there were many persons with whom it was a fault of the heart, and they must get something to put in substitution for it before they actually went and said to those persons, 'You must not do that.'Dr. Thomas Smith said—To walking on Sunday he confessed that he could not set himself in absolute opposition; but the gathering in the meadows, for example, of people who had no family relationship to each other made the scene one, if not of riot exactly, at least of merriment.Awful consummation! The Earl of Shaftesbury, who appears to have taken upon himself the leadership of the opposition to my Motion, seems to have found himself when north of the Tweed upon this question, a heretic and latitudinarian, if not a blasphemer. In a speech there, in a sudden effusion of poetry, he declared that nothing gave him more satisfaction than to see the working men and their wives and children walking out in the fields on Sunday, and "disporting themselves under the canopy of heaven." Now, disporting themselves under the canopy of 495 heaven, whatever that may mean, seems to have had a very awful sound in the ears of the Scotch Sabbatarians, and the noble Earl was accordingly called to account, and required to explain what he could mean. Whether the noble Earl satisfied his interrogators by his explanation, I have now no means of judging; but I must say he went as far as a reasonable nobleman could be expected to do. He said—Disporting under the canopy of heaven. Such, I believe, were my words, but were intended simply for the movements of the children, running to and fro in their youthful elasticity of limb and spirits. I was not at the precise moment thinking of the parents, who might be, and probably would be, walking together in calm, though joyous gravity.But there is another ground on which I think that legislative recognition of Sabbatarianism should be promptly withdrawn—it is this, that in effect it is demoralizing the population, and utterly confusing all reasonable notions of right and wrong, and making itself a burden to a confused conscience. Yes, whenever authority, whether ecclesiastical or civil, makes crime of that which is not sin, which is not vicious in the opinions or to the consciences of the people, it does what in it lies to demoralize the population, to confuse their sense of right and wrong, and harass and confuse their consciences. Now, in illustration of this, I will ask, What are humanity in general, or Christianity in particular? to think when they see such an illustration as this, of the meaning of the system under which we live. The North British Mail states that an old man named M'Kean, residing in the Dry Gate, Glasgow, is alleged to have died from destitution on the Sunday. It is stated that the city parochial authorities were informed of the case early on that day, but refused to visit the dying man on the ground that "they had no Inspectors on duty on Sunday." In the same view I will trouble the House with a few words, from a letter I have received from a Norfolk rector. I have received many letters, anonymous, and others. This is signed; but I will not give the clergyman's name unless it is distinctly called for. He speaks of my course as—An attempt which must eventually jeopardize my soul's safety; if successful, must involve myriads in irremediable ruin in eternity.He proceeds— 496I beseech you, consider that the words you utter on the occasion of introducing your Motion will be cited with terrible effect, if not on your death-bed, most certainly at the bar of judgment. Fear to incur the Divine wrath, and be not envious of the ten thousand imprecations and bitter reproaches of the finally lost in eternal torments through the act to which you are now committed.Just 230 years ago an ancestor of mine, one Daniel Taylor, who was in office under Cromwell, was consigned to his satanic majesty in much the same manner with his pastor, the Rev. John Goodwin, by a famous controversialist of the day, and as I think for a cause not altogether dissimilar to that which I am pleading to-night, as it was said that he "pleaded for universal liberty of conscience." Perhaps, therefore, I am constitutionally indifferent to such attacks; but I ask the House, does it not argue a terrible depravation of the moral sense, when a gentleman, a Christian, and a clergyman, can thus consign me for ever to the infernal gods, and all because I have the misfortune to differ from him in regard to the sanctity of an institution which I think I have sufficiently shown is neither ancient, Christian, nor reasonable? One more instance I must give, and I confess it strikes me with more disgust than the denunciation poured upon myself. The House will hear how a priest of the Church of Christ teaches the little children whom one may suppose, intending to follow the example of his great master, he had invited to listen to him. The scene took place in London, and a clergyman addressing some children, said he knew a little boy who broke the Sabbath by eating a lollipop, and the result was, that it stuck in his throat and choked him. He admitted the possibility of a little boy choking himself with a lollipop on any other day than Sunday; but still he could not help tracing in the choking an indirect punishment for breaking Heaven's holy law. We send abroad missions to convert the heathen, it would seem we have heathenism enough at home to occupy our thoughts. I will not suppose that the House is indifferent to the advances Sabbatarianism has made, which highly affect the interests and the comfort of the working classes rather than themselves; but I must point out that our amusements and freedom are no more safe from attack than are those of the working classes. In an 497 address to the Queen from the Archdeacon and clergy, and the Archdeaconry of Derby, I find that neither the upper ten thousand, nor the Church itself, is free from their impertinent intrusion. They say—We would humbly entreat your Majesty's gracious attention to the following grievous desecrations of the Lord's Day. The plying of boats and vessels on canals and rivers, and the running of railway trains for the purpose of traffic or pleasure, the transmission of the mails, and the delivery of the letters. … We would also humbly solicit your Majesty's Royal interference to prevent the unhallowed assemblage of the Higher Classes with their equipages in your Majesty's Parks on the Lord's Day. …. We also respectfully entreat your Majesty to exercise your Royal influence and authority to put a stop to the playing of the bands at Windsor, in the Kensington Gardens, and other places.I wish it to be clearly understood that in what I am saying I am passing no judgment on the Sabbatarians themselves, it is only their system that I denounce. I freely acknowledge that they are earnest and honest men, and the more earnest they are, the more dangerous are their attacks upon our rights and liberties. It will be understood also that in speaking of the separation of legislative sanction from Sabbatarian observances, I recognize as a matter of course the fullest right in the State for public interest and for public advantage to make any laws that it shall deem necessary for maintaining the principle that there shall be rest for the entire people at some short interval of time. Into the policy of such legislation, and as to its limits, it would be out of place for me to enter at this moment; but in seeking to dissolve the connection between legislation and interference with the liberty of the people, I desire it to be clearly understood that I am limiting it simply to the attempt to endorse upon religious grounds, which we do not hold, the views of Sabbatarianism. I have alluded to the United States, as second only to Scotland in its endurance of the evils of Sabbatarianism; but I am happy to say that within the last few years a great change has come over the habits and customs of the people in this respect. It will be universally allowed that there is no more religious, no more church and chapel going people on the face of the earth than are the Americans; I am speaking of the Northern, Western, and New England States. They are, however more relaxing in regard to this 498 question, and precisely in the direction, and to the extent to which I am suggesting relaxation here. The public library of Philadelphia was first opened on Sunday in 1870, and the attendance has increased from 300 per day to 700. Both the president and librarian express themselves entirely satisfied with the working of the arrangement. The public library of Cincinatti was opened on Sunday, in March, 1871. The librarian in his report says—It is a noticeable fact that many of that class of young men who have strolled about the streets on Sunday, and spent the day in a less profitable manner, are habitually frequenting the rooms and spending a portion of the day in reading. An experiment which was commenced here some sixteen months ago with forebodings in the minds of some excellent people, has, by common consent, been acknowledged a success.The public libraries of New York and St. Louis are now open on Sundays. Wherever the experiment has been tried it has always succeeded, and eventually extended. Now, it is a common mistake to suppose that Sabbatarianism is characteristic of Protestantism. It is, of course, true that the Roman Catholics, always opposed to Puritanic principles, have always kept themselves free from the taint of Sabbatarianism. But it is no less true that it is not especially a Protestant characteristic. I quote the following from The Saturday Review:—The Continental Sunday, which is spoken of in many quarters with such a pious horror, is seen at its worst, not in Catholic, but in Protestant cities and countries. Shops are open in Berlin and closed at Munich. At Lucerne 'the Sabbath'—though of course, it is not so designated—is strictly observed, while at Interlachen it is ostentatiously ignored. The opera, no doubt, is open everywhere alike, and it is equally attended by religionists of cither creed.I am sure my hon. Friend will eloquently dilate upon the dangers of our falling into the horrors of the Continental Sunday. That Continental Sunday is a bugbear in my path. It is more difficult to contend against a well-worn phrase than to argue against a theory or a fact. You shall see a respectable Sabbatarian going to enjoy himself with his family in France. No sooner has he placed the Continent between himself and his religion than he does as they do at Rome, and enjoys himself at the theatre and opera on Sunday evenings. He will frankly admit, if you ask him, that he has never seen less evidence of de- 499 bauchery or drunkenness, and that he has never seen more order or quietness in his own country on a Sunday, and yet he shall no sooner he landed in his own island home than on the first opportunity he will again begin to talk about the immorality of the Continental Sunday. But what of the immorality of Sabbatarian England, and especially of super-Sabbatarian Scotland? A proposition was lately made to start steamers from the Broomielaw on Sunday, which was of course denounced as intended to introduce Continental immorality. On this The Scotch Reformers Gazette makes the following remarks:—We doubt if there be more immorality in any city on the Continent than just in this city of Glasgow itself, where (thanks to the Puritans) the people are excluded on Sunday from even the Botanical Gardens, and shut up like so many dogs in their kennels, or driven to dons of a far more degrading character, until it is time to re-commence their work at 6 o'clock on Monday morning.Yes; but what says the late Dr. Guthrie on this subject. He was almost a fanatic for Sabbath observances, and his evidence, therefore, may be taken as at least above all suspicion. He says—We counted on one occasion (in Paris) 33 theatres and places of amusement open on the Sabbath day. And we met with many other things besides to make us almost say with Abraham, 'The fear of God is not in this place.' Yet although our avocation led us often through the worst parts of the city, and occasionally late in the evening in that city, containing then a population six times larger than Edinburgh, we saw but one drunken man, and no drunken woman. Well, we stepped from the steamer upon one of the London quays, and had not gone many paces when our national pride was humbled, and any Christianity we may have had was put to the blush by the disgusting spectacle of drunkards reeling along the streets, and filling the air with horrid imprecations. In one hour we saw in London and in Edinburgh, with all her churches and schools, and piety, more drunkenness than we saw in five long months in guilty Paris.When this is all that Sabbatarianism plus Forbes Mackenzie, can do for Scotland, is it not time to leave off talking about the immorality of the Continental Sunday? And now, Sir, I am glad to be free from the religious side of the question. Upon a secular ground there can be no need for me to prove the advantage to the population of the proposition which I make to the House. No one denies—my hon. Friend himself will not deny—the useful and elevating influence upon the mind for six days in the week, quite apart from the question of the 500 sanctity of the Sunday. In his very Motion he expresses his desire to give every facility for extending these advantages to the people on the working days of the week, unfortunately the very days on which it is impossible for them to avail themselves of those advantages. But, in fact, the intellectual advantage of such opportunities and their purifying and elevating tendencies are not only not a ground with the true Sabbatarian for opening these places on the Sunday, they are the very ground upon which they would most deprecate this liberty. The House will be almost inclined to think I am exaggerating if I do not give evidence of the statement I have made. I find in an address at a meeting of the clergy of the archdeaconry of London, in the year 1852, the following passage in an address moved by Archdeacon Hale, and carried unanimously:—It is not, however, the gigantic character of the preparations which are making to draw myriads of people to one spot on the Lord's day, which fills us with apprehensions of the demoralizing effects of such an assemblage, but rather the intellectual character of the pursuits which we fear will there be offered to the public, and which however they may refine the mind, teach nothing which relates to the Christian religion.That is to say, in the opinion of these worthy clergymen, the intelligence may be cultivated and the mind purified and elevated, and yet no step be made of approximation to their religion. Well, I say, so much the worse for their religion. Sir, to those to whom religion is not merely a bundle of dry dogmas, but the highest outcome and best fruit of the highest culture and intellectual advances that humanity is capable of, I may be excused for answering such stuff as this by a perversion of the well-known words of Madame Roland—"Oh, religion! what blasphemy is uttered in they name." But I must go one step further. Mere abstinence from ordinary toil, without any substitute or other employment, or relaxation or interest, is not in the true sense of the word rest at all, still less a recreation. It is inactivity and apathy, and I am inclined to think is actually more likely to produce a dangerous condition of immorality than is participation in the lower and more sensual indulgence at the beer-house or the gin shop. I have before me a terrible illustration of the truth of this in a pamphlet written 501 by a clergyman of the Church of England, and entitled, The Unity of the Faith among all Nations. It is as follows:—One vicar of a parish, containing over one hundred young unmarried women, told me with painful emotion, that he could not point to one among them of whom he could feel sure that she had not lost her virginity.And a medical man speaking of the immense number of illegitimate children born in the villages around him, added this sad statement—that more of the acts which lead to such births are committed on Sundays than on all the other days of the week taken together. It has been suggested to me, why not ask for a Committee as the ordinary and established mode for bringing together and classifying the facts and opinions of the country upon the subject? But, Sir, that has been done long ago. All the information that could be obtained from a Committee was obtained 20 years ago. It was a Committee not specifically appointed in regard to the Sunday question, but on public-houses; and the House will be inclined to pay some respect to its decision when I name the Members of whom it was composed:—Mr. William Brown, the Judge Advocate, Sir George Goodman, Sir George Grey, the Earl of March, Sir John Pakington, Mr. Beckett, Mr. Barrow, Mr. Grigson, Lord Dudley Stuart, Lord Ernest Bruce, Mr. Packe, Mr. Sotheron, Mr. Lowe, Mr. Ker Seymer. In its Report occurs this striking passage—The system that suffers the singing saloons of Manchester and Liverpool and Cremorne, and the Eagle Tavern Gardens to be open on Sundays, and shuts in face of all but the proprietors and those who can have free admission, the Gardens of the Zoological Society, and the vast and varied school of occular instruction provided within the grounds and building of the Crystal Palace is scarcely consistent. But there are other places of public instruction, the complete closing of which, throughout the Sunday, seems to your Committee still less excusable. The National Gallery, the British and Geological Museums, the Exhibitions at Marlborough and Gore House, and other places of public instruction are paid for by the nation, and it does not seem to your Committee reasonable that these places should be closed upon the only day that it is possible for the majority of the population to visit them without serious loss.And now for the arguments that I know will be urged against me. It will be said that by the very necessity of the case, the opening of these institutions will compel some people to work upon the Sunday. I confess, Sir, that this 502 seems to me an argument only adopted after the religious basis of Sabbatarianism is felt to be undermined. In the first place, I may observe in the words of the Report of the Committee to which I have just alluded, that—There are numbers of persons who, if it were open to them, would gladly at a moderate remuneration volunteer their services for the Sunday after 1 o'clock, the hour at which it is supposed that all such places shall be opened, and your Committee are not aware of any serious difficulty, in the way of a register of persons so willing to serve, being kept at the several institutions, or of such persons attending for a time as probationers in order to make themselves thoroughly conversant with the requisite duties, and it would not then even be needful that the same persons should attend on consecutive Sundays.I shall not myself put much weight to this answer to the objection. In order that the majority may rest upon the Sunday it is absolutely essential that a few should work; and the difference between me and the Sabbatarians upon this point only is, that while they would deliver over to endless labour those whom necessity prevents from having a day of rest on the Sunday, I, on the other hand, would, by the arrangement of a system of relays, provide that for the whole population there should be an occasional interval of rest. Mr. Cole declared that, as regarded Kensington Galleries, he would require but four men, and no more, in addition to those necessarily employed. But I must ask the House, what will be the feeling of the working classes of this country, if they learn that the House refuses their demand upon the ground that it will necessarily involve the labour of some? Will they not say that the only just test in this matter is, that the employment of the fewest possible workers on Sunday will enfranchise and give rest and recreation to the largest number? Now, it is obvious in regard to public conveyances and public institutions the test is satisfied. The minimum of labour procures a maximum of recreation.' But how is it with regard to our honourable House? How many men and women are there who have to labour every Sunday for our comfort, our enjoyment, and our luxury?—at a low estimate three or four per head—a number that would suffice to open every museum and library in the country. It is said that a large number of cabs would be employed. Sir, I do not think the classes who would 503 pour into museums and libraries on Sundays are mostly those who would employ cabs; but I remember not long ago there was a deputation to the Bishop of London, which stated that there were 24,000 cabs employed every Sunday in conveying persons to church or chapel. I never hoard a proposition that churches and chapels should be closed on that account. Perhaps, however, it may be said that the attendance at these places is a work of piety or of necessity. This, I must say, is carrying class legislation into the affairs of another world. Why is the soul of a cabman to be imperilled, in order that the stout wife of the greengrocer may be enabled to place an item to the credit of her heavenly account? But in every part of our life the labour which affects the interest of the rich is taken as a matter of course. It is only when the interests of the poor come into question that religious scruples arise between them and their enjoyment. While I observe every Sunday—both here and at Brighton—numbers of men at work watering the roads, in order to prevent our houses and our clothing from being discoloured with dust, shall we refuse to open these institutions to the people, which may prevent the clogging of their minds and souls with a deeper and more dangerous dust. But, then, it is urged that if we take this first step, Sunday will become not a day of rest and recreation, but a day of work and labour—that our factories will be opened, and that no difference will be seen between Sunday and the week day. Sir, I hold any such fear to be absolutely fanciful. Does anyone believe that the great working classes of this country, who have just—without any assistance from the Legislature—compelled their employers to acquiesce in the nine hours' working day, will be persuaded or coerced into giving up their precious day of rest? But I must here say, most emphatically for myself and for all those pressing this question, that we are as absolutely in favour of a periodical day of rest for the whole community as anyone can by any possibility be. We agree with Lord Lytton, when he said—"Some must work that others may rest; universal rest is universal stagnation." I have alluded to the principle of relays, and of the arrangements by which periodical rest for all would be secured; and this is, in 504 fact, the principle which we have recognized and carried out in regard to the Jews. And I am here to-night to plead for the right of religious liberty on the part of the Christians of this country, which has already been given to the Jews. I deny that the relaxations which I propose for Sunday are likely to be the first step towards universal labour on that day. But if there were anything in the argument, it is now too late to urge it. The thin end of the wedge has long been driven in, and the question only is, what reasonable line should now be drawn? Why, Sir, we have opened the museums and gardens at Kew; why not the British Museum? We have opened the picture gallery at Hampton Court and Greenwich Hospital; why not open the National Gallery? We have the Brighton Aquarium open; why not open the Zoological Gardens? My hon. Friend will have to prove, when he comes to reply, why he thinks an octopus more sacred than a monkey. But, Sir, I have more remarkable instances in the public institutions of Dublin. The Glassnevie Botanical Gardens have been opened for some years, but more astounding still, have been opened by direct compulsion of the Government put upon the directors. They are partly supported by an annual grant, and under the threat of the withdrawal of that assistance, the grounds were compelled by the Government of the day to be opened on Sunday. There have since been opened voluntarily all the national museums and squares in Dublin, and the result has been entirely satisfactory. The visitors to the Botanical Gardens on a Sunday are more than three times the number of those on all the other days of the week put together, and in the Zoological Gardens the same proportions prevail; while the visitors to the National Gallery are nearly ten times the number of those on all the other days of the week. The Library and Art Gallery at Birmingham have also been opened with the same excellent result. I regret extremely the unavoidable absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham (Mr. Dixon), who would have supported me to-night. [The hon. Gentleman then quoted from a letter from Mr. Jesse Collings, a member of the Birmingham Town Council, who stated that the opening of the Art Gallery and Free Library continued to be a great 505 success, and the doubts and fears of their opponents had never been realized. All opposition to the movement seemed to have died away. The Library was generally crowded on Sunday evening, and the utmost order prevailed. About 18,000 persons had visited the Art Gallery during the year ending March 31st. The writer spoke of the pleasure which working men and their wives evinced while visiting the Art Gallery, and said although there was but one attendant, no case of damage had occurred. There was no doubt the opening of these institutions had advanced the best interests of the people, and it was too bad that prejudice or bigotry should be allowed any longer to prevent the inhabitants of other towns from enjoying similar advantages. The hon. Member then proceeded to quote the opinion of the metropolitan magistrates, as follows.] J. Hard wick, Esq., said—I would let all places of innocent recreation be opened on Sunday. I think the effect would he to diminish drunkenness. If you provide good objects, less of pernicious stimulants will be required.MR. G. Long, Marylebone, said—Encourage the people to take innocent recreation on Sunday, and you will confer a great benefit on society: in proportion as you give people better taste, they will relinquish low sensualities.Sir Richard Mayne, a Chief Commissioner of Police, said—No disorder arises from persons going forth to places of innocent recreation, nor in the town afterwards. I should fear no disorder if the Crystal Palace or the museums were opened. …. Richmond Park, Hampton Court Palace and Grounds, the Gardens at Kew, and Bushey Park have attracted large numbers on the summer Sundays, but I have not increased the number of police in those places.The following is the extraordinary testimony of Sir Joseph Paxton—The park at Chatsworth had been open to the public for about 100 years. About 1844 it was closed, and the people spent their time at the public-houses, and created great disturbance. The park was opened again, and such scenes ceased; two men are all that are required to look after them. There would be less labour done on Sunday if museums and the Crystal Palace were opened, as the number employed at public-houses would be greatly diminished.The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland had also spoken in the highest terms of the good conduct of the people who had visited the Zoological Gardens in Dublin. And now, in conclusion, I must ask the House, is it consistent with statesman- 506 ship or with decency that for the multitudinous population of this great City there should be but one class of amusement and recreation open on the Sunday—the gin palace? I do not say this as an advocate for the closing of those places on a Sunday. I am no believer in what has been termed grand maternal legislation, but I would not leave such places open alone. I would place by the side of them such institutions as would afford opportunities for higher and purer gratifications. I do say that the result which follows from our confusion of two opposite systems of government—the laissez faire and the paternal—which in regard to beer-shops and gin palaces lets laissez faire rule, and says—"They shall be opened on Sundays;" while, in regard to museums and libraries, says—"here paternal government shall interfere, and the people shall be shut out from all higher and more improving recreations" I say the result of these two principles, thus illustrated can only be termed one of fatuous insecurity, in regard to which I know not whether those who come after us will feel most amazement or indignation. Upon this point I shall ask the House to permit me to give one more extract, and it shall be the last. It is from the speech of a statesman perhaps more universally esteemed for his judgment and moderation than any other man in the country—I mean the present Lord Derby. He said—There was time on Sunday both for religious worship and for innocent recreation. There need not be any competition between the Church and Museums. He hoped between the museums and the public-house there would be much competition. Of this they might be assured—that if they attempted to legislate in their present temper, if they continued old restrictions and created new ones they would make religion unpopular, and throw back education. The clergy would gain nothing, the people would lose much; but one class he admitted would thank them for their efforts. They would have swelled the profits and gladdened the hearts of every brewer, distiller, and publican in the United Kingdom.And now, Sir, thanking the House for the great latitude they have permitted me, I end as I began, by an appeal to them to view the justice of the cause, and not to let it suffer by the shortcomings of its humble advocate. I appeal to the House to do this good thing to-night. It is often said that we are more given to eloquent talk than to useful 507 actions. We have, at any rate, tonight, an opportunity of reversing that opinion. There is no need for second readings and third readings, and appeals to another House: a mere vote of the House to-night will be effective in loosing the hands of willing directors and sympathetic trustees. I appeal to the House once more to do this good thing. I am not going to draw any enthusiastic pictures of gin shops closed and churches filled, or of any sudden millennium, as the result of the adoption of this Resolution; but this I do say, in the full belief in its unexaggerated truthfulness, that we can by such a vote give at once to thousands and tens of thousands of the people of this great City alone, new life, new objects, greater opportunities of cultivating their intelligence, and lifting themselves in the scale of being. There are thousands and tens of thousands more to whom the advantage would be perhaps less marked, if not less important—those who are trembling in the balance between good and evil, who are at present absorbed upon their only day of rest in the coarse and sensual enjoyment afforded by the gin palace, but many of whom if offered the choice of something better would gradually shake off their lower associations, and improve alike their minds and hearts. I do entreat the House to call down upon our heads the blessings of those not unimportant classes. I make an especial appeal also to the Government, and I venture to throw upon them the responsibility which I have expressed as pressing upon myself. The question lies absolutely at this moment within their control. A word from them, and my Resolution would be carried by a triumphant majority. The Government does not profess to be intending to promote questions of organic reform, but rather to confine itself to questions embracing the social and sanitary improvement of the people. I ask them what measure can more tend to the social and sanitary improvement of the people than the passing of the Resolution which I have the honour to propose? I make, then, this appeal finally to the House and to the Government, and I ask this boon of them in the name of common sense and common justice, in the interests of intelligence and morality, and not less emphatically in the interests of religion itself.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, in the opinion of this House, it is desirable to give greater facilities for recreation of a moral and intellectual character by permitting the opening of Museums, Libraries, and similar institutions on Sunday."—(Mr. P. A. Taylor.)
§ MR. W. S. ALLEN
Sir, in rising to move the Amendment of which I have given Notice—That this House, while of opinion all possible facilities should be afforded for the moral and intellectual recreation of the people by opening Museums, Libraries, and similar institutions on week-days, and where safe and practicable, on week day evenings, considers it undesirable that any change should be made in the existing arrangements for closing them on Sundays.I must ask for the same fair and candid hearing as has been given to the hon. Member for Leicester; especially as a great portion of his speech has been a direct personal appeal to me, and a challenge to me to answer his arguments. And I am very glad to find I have a much easier task than I anticipated, both as to answering his arguments and refuting his facts. Now, I moved my Amendment because I was anxious that his Motion should not be met by a simple negative, but that this House, while distinctly declining to consider the principle of Sunday opening, should at the same time clearly and decisively express its opinion that on week-days and week-day evenings all possible facilities should be given to the people for the inspection of our museums and galleries. Now the hon. Member alluded to the fact that it was 18 years since a division had been taken in this House on a similar Motion, and he stated that there had been a great change in the opinion of the country since then; but he forgot to tell us, as he might have done, that when he was about to bring forward his Motion on this subject last year, so great was the interest the House felt in it, and so strongly did his friends rally round him, that the House was counted out, less than 30 Members being present. The hon. Member says his demand is a very moderate one. Why, when the late hon. Member for Galway (Mr. W. H. Gregory) brought forward his Motion in 1869, he only asked that the British Museum, National Gallery, and two other institutions might be opened, but the hon. Member for Leicester asks that this House shall 509 broadly affirm the principle that all museums, and galleries, and libraries, both in London and in every other town in the Kingdom, should be opened on the Lord's Day, a demand so excessive and so opposed to the wishes of the country that I am sure this House will pause before it grants it. The hon. Member stated in his speech that "the great majority of the cultured and educated persons in the Kingdom" were in favour of his Motion, and he also told us the "great bulk of the working classes were;" and in proof of the correctness of his statement he mentioned his own recent election for Leicester. Well, what are the facts of the case as to his re-election for Leicester? He was re-elected, not on account of his views on the Sunday question, but in spite of them. I know some of the hon. Member's constituents, and they one and all tell me they deeply regret the part he has taken on this subject. The truth is, the hon. Member having represented Leicester for some years, the people of Leicester, admiring his many virtues, and charmed with his engaging qualities, forgive his sins on this question; but in order to neutralize his vote and render him harmless, they give him a Colleague of opposite views; so that while on all other great questions the two Members for Leicester will go into the same Lobby, on this question alone they will go into different Lobbies. But the hon. Member says the working men of London are for it, and he produced a list of trades' unions and workshops which had petitioned for it. I grant that a number of the working men are for his Motion, but I most distinctly deny that the majority of them are. His supporters among the workmen of London are almost entirely drawn from three classes—foreigners, secularists, and Republicans. There are in London some thousands of foreign workmen, and these men, not having been accustomed in their own countries to anything like a strict observance of the Sabbath, very naturally wish for all kinds of amusement on that day; but I altogether dispute their right to dictate to Englishmen as to the way in which we shall keep our day of rest. There are also in London a number of working men who are secularists, disciples of Mr. Bradlaugh and Mr. Holyoake; and those men, holding extreme sceptical views, and ridicul- 510 ing the very name of religion, are also in favour of Sunday being altogether devoted to amusement and pleasure. There are also a number of working men in this City who hold extreme political views, who are members of different Republican and advanced political clubs, and these men are for the most part in favour of the Motion of the hon. Member. But out of these three classes I maintain that the hon. Member has very few supporters either among the working men of London or of the rest of the country; because they believe his views to be wrong, and because they shrewdly guess that if they once devote their Sundays to play they will soon have to devote them to work. The hon. Member brought forward a list of trade unions which were, he said, in favour of his Motion. But the fact of the matter is, those very trades' unions are precluded by their rides from discussing "any religious or political question," so that in reality no fair vote had been taken at a regular meeting. And besides, in that list there is only one large association represented, and that one is easily accounted for, because Dr. Baxter Langley is its chairman, and his influence in it is predominant. The hon. Member also brought forward a list of some 20 workshops in which the majority of the men were favourable to his Motion. Why, we all know that in a great City like this, with 3,000,000 of inhabitants, with hundreds of thousands of artizans, and containing some thousands of workshops, it is easy to pick out a few workshops in which the majority of the men might hold the most extreme views on any conceivable subject. But it is not enough for the hon. Member to say "these few small trades' unions and these few workshops are on my side," in order to prove that the majority of the working classes are with him. On the contrary, tried by the test of public meetings, and tried by the test of Petitions, we most emphatically assert that the great majority of them are with us on this question; and that only a very small percentage are with him. Now as to public meetings, the Sunday League held four at the East of London the winter before last, and what was the result? They were out-voted at two of them. But, on the other hand, eight public meetings were held in the East of London under the auspices of the 511 East London Sunday Rest Association, and at each of these, by large majorities, resolutions against the Sunday opening of museums were carried. 25 other public meetings were also called by the Working Men's Lord's Day Rest Association, and at every one of these, by very large majorities, similar resolutions were carried. During the last three years, 300 lectures have been also given on this question in different parts of the metropolis, many of which have been free, and at not one of these have the friends of Sunday closing been out-voted; and at the majority of them the feeling has been unanimous in favour of keeping museums and such institutions closed on the Lord's Day. In fact, tried by the test of public meetings, there cannot be a doubt but that the feeling of the vast majority of the working classes in London is opposed to the views of the hon. Member. Then as to Petitions. Last year, Petitions signed by more than 130,000 were presented against the hon. Member's Motion; and Petitions in favour of it signed by only about 6,000. But the hon. Member has just sneered at the way in which our Petitions are got up. "Young girls," he says, "go about with them, and get the same persons to sign several times." I think the less he says on this point, the better. Has he forgotten that in 1869 the men employed by his friends of the Sunday League found such difficulty in getting any one to sign their Petitions, that they actually resorted to the device of fabricating signatures in order to impose on this House and deceive the country? And it is a noticeable fact that in the East of London no less than 90 per cent of the working classes, who were asked to sign our Petition, gladly did so; and no fewer than 40,000 signatures were obtained in that locality alone. Only to-day I presented a Petition, signed by a large number of the employés of the Great Western Railway, in opposition to the Motion of the hon. Member. These men, unfortunately, know what Sunday work is, and believing that his Motion would, ultimately, vastly increase it, they are determined to oppose it. In fact, there can be no question that the great majority of the working classes of the country are opposed to the hon. Member's Motion, because it is contrary to their sense of what is right, and because they look with just suspicion on 512 any infringement of the integrity of the Sabbath as a day of rest. Then the hon. Member states that last year a Petition was presented, signed by 200 clergymen and ministers, in favour of his Motion; and I see the last report of the National Sunday League states that "nearly 200 clergymen of undoubted religious zeal" are favourable to their views. I confess, when I first heard this astonishing statement, I was somewhat amazed that "200 clergymen of undoubted religious zeal" should sign such a Petition; and also that the Committee of the Sunday League should condescend to seek assistance from "men of undoubted religious zeal" at all. But a glance at the Petition explained the matter. I see there the names of some half-dozen eminent men, with Dean Stanley at their head. But what does this show? It merely shows that in all large bodies of men, whether clergymen or laymen, you will always find a certain small percentage of men who, though they may be able and accomplished, will still hold peculiar views. We find it the case in this House. Among the 650 Members of which it is composed, there is one eminent man who holds peculiar views on the Tich borne case; and another, a Baronet, who sits below the Gangway, has peculiar views on the advantages of a Republic. But after taking these half-dozen eminent men of peculiar views out of the list, what do we find them? About twenty broad Churchmen of extreme views, almost bordering on scepticism; and about 30 extreme Ritualists—men who hold almost every dogma of the Roman Catholic faith. Then we find a number of Unitarian ministers, and it is well known the Unitarians do not hold strict views on the observance of the Sabbath. Then we find a number of deistical preachers, men whose "undoubted religious zeal" seems to consist in a desire to sap the foundations of all religion whatsoever. Then we find some very peculiar men indeed. There is "C. Coe, minister of the Great Meeting"—"J. Moden, missionary minister, Church of the Messiah"—"Goodwin Barmby, General of the Brotherhood of Faith;" and then we find some who, no doubt for prudential reasons, do not give any address at all. In fact, with some few exceptions, this list simply contains the eccentricities and peculiarities of every Church and creed in the Three Kingdoms; and 513 yet it is trumpeted forth by the Sunday League as containing the names of "nearly 200 clergymen of undoubted religious zeal." Then the hon. Member made use of the old argument that closing museums and galleries on Sundays is class legislation—an assertion which is utterly without foundation, because their doors are closed equally against the rich and the poor. Then the hon. Member stated, in allusion to the magnificent generosity of Sir Richard Wallace, that the poor were defrauded of their right by the Bethnal Green Museum being closed on Sundays; whereas he might have had hundreds of carriages driving up to his own house at the West End, filled with wealthy people, every Sabbath to see them. Well, there was nothing to have prevented Sir Richard Wallace hiring a large room at the East End of London, and filling it with pictures, and then he might have had thousands of the poor every Sunday to see them; but, instead of doing that, he placed them in a public museum, and consequently was obliged to submit to the rules of that institution; but there is no class legislation in this. Then the hon. Member said we have no place of amusement open on the Sabbath but the gin palace. A very good reason for closing the gin palace; but none for opening museums and galleries. I think it is a scandal and a disgrace to us that the gin palaces should be open on the Lord's Day; and I deeply regret the fearful amount of drunkenness and misery caused by it; but the hon. Member has no right to charge the drunkenness and the misery which are caused by our legislation to the fact that our museums and galleries are not open also, and if the hon. Member thinks Sunday drinking such a terrible thing, how is it that he has never supported any Bills for closing public-houses on the Lord's Day? Where is his consistency in the matter? and if opening our museums and galleries would check drunkenness on Sundays, how is it that so many of the London publicans are in favour of it, for there is no place where we find the bills of the Sunday League so frequently displayed as in the gin palace windows. Are these patriotic and philanthropic men so desirous of selling less liquor, that they are asking the Sunday League to help them in the matter? The simple truth is, opening 514 our museums and galleries would not put a stop to Sunday drinking; it would only increase it. Sight-seeing is thirsty work. I grant you might somewhat diminish the number of customers in some public-houses in remote districts of London, but you would vastly increase the number in those in the neighbourhoods of your museums and galleries. In fact, in those localities a new crop of gin palaces and liquor-shops would spring up, which would be crowded by thousands who would resort to them tired and exhausted from the moral and intellectual recreation the hon. Member wishes to provide for them, so that you would only diminish drunkenness in some places vastly to increase it in others. Then the hon. Member tells us the "thin end of the wedge" argument has lost its force, because, by the opening of the Dublin and Birmingham Museums, the thin end of the wedge has been driven in. I admit the fact—and I deeply regret that the thin end of the wedge has been driven in—but, surely, that is no reason why we should not endeavour to prevent it being driven in any further. And, after all, there is a vast difference between a provincial museum being opened by the act of a town council, and this House, emphatically declaring its opinion, that all museums, galleries, and libraries throughout the Kingdom should be opened on Sunday. For if this House once affirms the principle that museums, galleries, and other institutions of a similar kind should be open on the Sabbath, I want to know where you are to stop. If this House once declares that the British Museum and the National Gallery should be opened, what possible argument can you bring against opening the Royal Academy, the Crystal Palace, and the Zoological Gardens also? If it is right to look at dead beasts in the Museum, surely it cannot be wrong to look at live beasts in the Zoological Gardens; and if it is right to look at the works of ancient masters in the National Gallery, it cannot be wrong to look at the works of modern masters in the Academy. And, on the same principle, you could not object to every public and private exhibition in the country being opened on the Sunday. And if it is right for your public and private exhibitions to be opened, how can you forbid the opening of the theatre and the opera, and the 515 music hall, and the dancing saloon? The truth is—and no persons know it better than the members of the National Sunday League—if you once begin you cannot stop. If you once concede the principle that it is right for any exhibition or place of amusement to be opened on Sunday, you must concede it to all. If you once sanction this inroad on the observance of the Sabbath, you cannot raise any barrier that will stem the tide of further demands; and the result will surely be that you will lose the peaceful quiet and rest of the English Sabbath, and have in its place the bustle, and noise, and work of a Parisian Sunday. And a very strong objection I have to the hon. Member's Motion is, that it will create a great deal of Sunday labour: it will force the employés at the places he proposes to open to work seven days instead of six. I grant this would only apply to a few at first; but, depend upon it, the evil would grow, and grow with a rapidity for which he is unprepared. And if, as I believe, the result of passing his Motion would be that all public and private places of amusement throughout the Kingdom would soon be opened on the Lord's Day, thousands of persons employed in them would soon be forced to work on Sunday just as on other days of the week. And the evil would not end here; for on the metropolitan railways, and on all other lines running into London and other large towns, you would have a large number of additional Sunday trains, bringing crowds of sight-seers to gaze on the amusements you throw open to them, and thus hundreds of railway servants would be defrauded of their day of rest. At least double the number of omnibuses would also be required, and also a great addition of Sunday cabs. In fact, you would soon have a fourth of your working population toiling on the Sabbath for the pleasure and amusement of the rest. And the mischief would not stop here, for unscrupulous masters would soon say to their workmen, If it is right for you to make others work for your pleasure on the Lord's Day, it must be right also for me to make you work for my profit. And if some masters did it, others, forced by competition, would soon be compelled to do the same; and the result would be, you would bring on the working classes the greatest curse and the greatest calamity which could 516 befall them—the loss of the rest of one day in seven. I know, as the hon. Member has told us, the Sunday League repudiate any design of turning Sunday into a day of work. But what does that mean? In plain English, it just amounts to this, that they do not mean to work themselves, but that they do intend to make others work for their pleasure and amusement. And, in arguing this question, we must not forget this great fact, that all countries which have given up the Sabbath for play, have ultimately had to devote it to work. The hon. Member alluded in terms of eulogy to the Continental Sabbath. I have seen a Parisian Sunday, and I confess I do not know a much sadder sight. There you see masons, carpenters, bricklayers, and all other labourers and artizans toiling away on the Sabbath, just as on all other days. I will just read to the hon. Member the opinion of Mr. Smiles on this point. Mr. Smiles, at any rate, is no fanatic, and understands the question, and he says—What the so-called friends of the working classes are aiming at in England has already been effected in France. The public museums and galleries are open on Sundays, but you look for the working people in vain. They are at work in the factories, whose chimneys are smoking as usual, or building houses, or working in the fields, or they are engaged in the various departments of labour.These are striking words, and I commend them to the attention of the hon. Member and his Friends. The hon. Member alluded to the gloom and misery of a Sabbath north of the Tweed. I would ask him how it is that we find Scotchmen coming to the front and occupying positions of importance and responsibility all over the world if their strict observance of the Lord's Day has had such an injurious and demoralizing effect upon them. On the contrary, no man can doubt but that the strict manner in which the Scotch have observed the Lord's Day has had much to do with forming the stability and perseverance of their national character. The fact is, this Motion, disguise it as you may, is a blow aimed at the institution of the Sabbath, and an attempt to divert it from those great objects of rest from toil, and consideration of the future, for which it was set apart by the Creator. I really feel that in this House, in an assembly of the Representatives of a great Chris- 517 tian people, it is unnecessary for me to defend the institution of the Sabbath, or to attempt to show its priceless value, both in a secular and a religious point of view. Even in a secular point of view its value is incalculable, for it is an admitted fact that continuous bodily or mental labour, unbroken by the rest of one day in seven, is most injurious to health, and rapidly leads to premature decay. And from a religious point of view the value of the Sabbath is altogether priceless; and in arguing this question it is impossible to ignore the religious aspect of the case; and if it be true that man is immortal, if it be true that he has a life before him to which the present is less than a drop to the ocean, is it too much to give him one day in seven for the consideration of that solemn future which is before him, and for the worship of his great Creator? Before I sit down, may I marshall before the House the forces which are arrayed on either side on this question? On the side of the hon. Member for Leicester are 200 clergymen and ministers of peculiar views, the foreign workmen of London, the different Republican and infidel clubs, the members of the National Sunday League, and the secularists, and deists, and atheists of this metropolis and our other large towns. On our side, on the other hand, are ranged 19–20ths of the clergy of the Church of England, 9–10ths of the 2,600 Congregationalist ministers of this country, and 19–20ths of those of the Baptist churches. The 1,400 ministers of the Wesleyan Methodist body are with us to a man, and so are the 900 ministers of the Primitive Methodists, and so, I believe, are those of the Free Methodists. There are also more than 100,000 Sunday-school teachers in the Kingdom, and we have more than 95 per cent of these on our side. You cannot justly sneer at and despise the views of these two classes, ministers of religion and Sunday-school teachers, on a question like this, because there are no two classes more fully acquainted with the wants and requirements of our people, or who labour more unceasingly for their good. In fact, the whole religious thought of the country, with some few miserable exceptions, is with us, and on a religious question like this that fact alone should be decisive. I would appeal to the Government to speak out on this question, 518 and I confess, so far as it is concerned, I am glad they are in power, for I have more confidence in them on this question than in some gentlemen who used to sit on the seat they now occupy. Last month a deputation of the hon. Member's Friends waited on the Duke of Richmond, and they had the good taste to express a hope that it would not be necessary for them to "organize processions through the streets, to assemble in Hyde Park in their thousands, on a Sunday, as a demonstration." What is the meaning of this language addressed to a Member of Her Majesty's Government? It is just a threat that if the wishes of the Sunday League are not gratified, they will attempt to over-awe the Government and this House by a display of physical force. Sir, as a reply to that threat, I would earnestly appeal to this House, composed as it is of the Representatives of a great Christian people—of a people to millions of whom the name of religion is dear, and the Sabbath prized as a boon of priceless value, to reject this Motion of the hon. Member for Leicester, and to reject it by such a large and crushing majority as, during this Parliament at least, shall put an end to all further attempts to tamper with the integrity of the English Sabbath. I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House, while of opinion that all possible facilities should he afforded for the moral and intellectual recreation of the people by opening Museums, Libraries, and similar institutions on week-days, and where safe and practicable, on week-day evenings, considers it undesirable that any change should be made in the existing arrangements for closing them on Sundays."—(Mr. Allen.)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. A. M'ARTHUR
I rise to second the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme. Sir, I much regret being under the necessity of differing from my hon. Friend and Colleague (Mr. Taylor), but he is aware we differed upon this important question when addressing our constituents, and he will not be surprised to find that I now feel it my duty to 519 oppose the Motion which he has submitted to the House. Sir, my hon. Friend has deservedly acquired the reputation of being a friend of the working classes, and I doubt not that he and those who give him their support on this occasion are influenced by pure motives, and honestly believe the opening of museums, public libraries, and similar institutions on Sundays would benefit working men and be a boon to the masses. I hope, however widely I and others who intend to oppose the Motion may differ from him with regard to the best means for accomplishing the object he has in view, that he will give us credit for equally pure motives, and for an equally sincere and earnest desire to promote the best interests of those whom he is anxious to serve. Sir, I oppose this Motion because, while I admit it might gratify a few, and might even do some temporary good, yet my conviction is that it would ultimately be injurious to the masses, and I believe if there ever was a case in which working men should pray, "Save us from our friends," it might be well for them to offer up such a prayer now with reference to the well-meant, but I think most injudicious and injurious action, which my hon. Friend is taking in their behalf. Sir, if it were a simple question as to whether it would be better for men and women to spend a portion of their time on Sundays in public-houses or to spend it in museums, libraries, or picture galleries, there would, I apprehend, be no difference of opinion either in this House or throughout the country. But we must not take such a narrow and contracted view of the subject. On the contrary, I regard this as a great public question, in which the best interests of the nation, and especially the best interests of the working classes, are involved; because I hold that to rob working men of their Sunday would be one of the greatest injuries we could inflict upon them, and would be one of the greatest calamities that could possibly befal them. I am aware we may be told my hon. Friend has no such intention, and that carrying this Motion would have no such result. But I think the House will agree with me that it would be a step, and a long step, in that direction, for its direct and immediate effect would be to largely increase the amount of Sunday travelling, of Sunday traffic, and Sunday labour, and to de- 520 prive a correspondingly large number of men and women of the quiet and rest of the Sabbath, which they now enjoy, and would be most reluctant to be deprived of. I oppose the Motion, however, not merely on account of the extra labour it would entail upon many, but because it would ultimately have an injurious effect upon the best interests of every working man in the Kingdom. Sir, I presume most, if not all the Members of this House regard the Sabbath as a divinely-appointed institution, and believe that it was mercifully intended to promote man's spiritual, intellectual, social, and physical well-being. I shall not attempt to occupy the time of the House by dwelling upon the theological or religious aspect of the question, though I am far from regarding that as unimportant. Allow me, however, to say that Christianity has made us what we are as a nation—that Christianity and the Sabbath are inseparably connected, and that if we abolish the latter we shall soon have comparatively little of the former left worthy of the name. But apart from the religious view of the question, I think all experience proves that the social and moral advantages of the Sabbath are very great, and that without the rest of the seventh day, or of one-seventh of our time, physical health and vigour cannot be long preserved by man or beast. This is such a well-established fact that it will, I think, be disputed by few, and it certainly cannot be successfully disputed by any. In France during the latter part of last century, when infidelity prevailed to an alarming extent, when a determined effort was made to stamp out Christianity from the land, and when deeds of diabolical oppression, injustice, and cruelty were perpetrated in the name of liberty, yet even under such circumstances the necessity of a regular period for rest was recognized, and it was proposed to substitute a tenth for a seventh day of rest. This proposal would, doubtless, have proved a failure had there unhappily been sufficient; time allowed to test the experiment. But, if faithfully carried out, it might, perhaps, have been better than the state of things existing at present in that unhappy country. For we all know that in Paris and many of the large cities and towns of France there is no proper observance of the Sabbath by the masses, either as a day of rest or 521 religious observance. To those who can afford to do as they please, Sunday is a day of pleasure, of business, or perhaps, of both combined; and the counting-house, the race-course, and the theatre may all be visited. But to the poor who have to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow it is a day of labour and toil, and it is so to a greater or less extent to the business and mercantile classes also, for shops, warehouses, and public offices are open, and thousands of young men and women, who if they were living in this happy country would be permitted to breathe the pure air of Heaven, to attend places of worship, to visit their friends and relatives, or to spend the Sunday as they please, are there compelled to be at work as on other days. Sir, we mourn over the ills that have afflicted France, and we may attribute those evils to whatever causes we please; but I believe the utter disregard of the Sabbath has injured that country not only in its domestic relations, but also religiously, socially, and politically, and that it has seriously impaired the physical stamina of the labouring classes, and, indeed, of the nation, because, as I have already stated, health and strength cannot long be preserved under the pressure of incessant labour. Will the House permit me to give a comparatively recent illustration of the truth of this assertion? Some 10 or 12 years ago an expedition was organized in Australia for the purpose of exploring the interior of that island continent, a large portion of which was then unexplored. Every possible care was taken to make the expedition successful. Camels were imported, experienced bushmen were engaged, and able and energetic leaders or commanders were appointed. In due time the expedition started, full of hope, and accompanied by the best wishes of the colonists. The account of their wanderings is exceedingly interesting, but I must not occupy the time of the House by going into detail. It is sufficient for my purpose for me to state that after experiencing many difficulties and encountering some dangers, a few of them succeeded in crossing from Victoria to the Gulf of Carpentaria. They then retraced their steps to Cooper's Creek, where they expected to find assistance, and where they arrived in a state of great physical exhaustion, after having lost one of their number and some of 522 the animals. Unhappily, owing to some misunderstanding or mismanagement, they did not meet with those who were expected to afford them relief, and after much suffering and patient endurance the leaders of the party died, and only one man survived to tell the tale of their sufferings and preserve the journal which contained an account of their wanderings. Shortly afterwards another expedition was organized and started from the Gulf of Carpentaria, I believe partly with the view to assist those who had started from Melbourne, if necessary. Sir, I speak from memory, and cannot vouch for strict accuracy in details; but I believe I am correct in stating that the second expedition, to which I have just alluded passed through equally barren country, experienced similar difficulties and encountered similar dangers, yet the leader of that expedition accomplished the object he had in view, and brought both men and animals to Melbourne almost in as good condition as when they started. Now, it is possible he may have had more favourable weather, or been more favourably circumstanced in some respects. But in reading both accounts one cannot help being struck with the fact that the leader of the first party utterly ignored the Sabbath, and although he rested occasionally, there was no regular seventh day rest, while the leader of the second party made it a rule invariably to rest on Sundays, except on one or two occasions when want of water or some imperative necessity rendered it necessary for him to travel, and I have a strong conviction that had the brave and noble men who perished respected the Sunday and rested on each seventh day they might have lived to return to civilized society and to receive the congratulations of their friends. Sir, I also oppose this Motion, because, notwithstanding what my hon. Friend has said, I believe the great bulk of the working men of the Kingdom not only do not desire any alteration in the direction advocated by my hon. Friend, but are positively opposed to any such alteration. It is undoubtedly and unhappily true that comparatively few working men attend places of worship on Sundays. But however careless they may be about religious matters, they are intelligent enough to know that it is a great advantage to them to have a day of rest from their usual toil, and to have 523 one day in seven which they can emphatically call their own. They know also full well, notwithstanding all the plausible arguments to the contrary, that every encroachment on the Sunday is not an addition to, but an encroachment on their true liberty, and a step in the direction of seven days' work for six days' wages. Sir, I think my hon. Friend must be of a very sanguine disposition if he fancies that the superior attractions of museums and public libraries would allure men from public-houses. My impression is that very few, if any, of those who spend their money in drink would be reformed, or be in any way benefited, by our adoption of this Motion. But there is another and better class of men who would almost inevitable be greatly injured. I refer to men who care comparatively little about religion, but who are fond of domestic comfort, and who think it right to send their children to Sunday schools. I fear many men of this description would be induced to go with their wives and families to visit places of amusement. Of course there would be the attraction of the public-house or the refreshment stall, and men would be much more likely to indulge in intoxicating drinks than if they had remained at home; while their children, instead of receiving useful instruction in the Sunday schools, would be acquiring habits that might be ruinous to them and dangerous to society in after life. Sir, I have stated that I believe my hon. Friend is influenced by pure motives and benevolent intentions; and if he wants a field for his benevolent exertions he need not go far to find it, but he must turn completely round and travel in a directly opposite direction. Let him turn his attention to overworked railway officials, cabmen, omnibus and tram-car drivers and conductors, and endeavour to ameliorate their condition, and the condition of others who have no Sunday, and not impose upon them still heavier burdens, which carrying this Motion would inevitably be the means of doing. I was speaking to the conductor of a tram-car a few days ago, and he informed me that he was at work during 16 hours every week-day, and about 14 hours every Sunday. I understand omnibus men have equally hard work, and some of us have heard the answer of a cabman who, when spoken to about a better 524 world, replied—"It is all very well for the likes of you to try to get there, but you are driving us to——" another region, which it would, perhaps, be scarcely in accordance with Parliamentary propriety to describe more plainly. Sir, we have been accustomed to express our abhorrence and detestation of the serfdom of Russia, and the slavery of the Southern States of America, now happily things of the past; but I have no hesitation in saying that large numbers of the serfs of Russia, and of the slaves of America, had far less arduous toil, and certainly much less anxiety, than those to whom I have alluded, who are our fellow subjects and citizens, and I believe that such a state of things in this Christian country is alike disgraceful to our civilization and to our Christianity, and yet my hon. Friend is endeavouring to aggravate this state of things. No. I beg to recall that observation. I believe he is too kind-hearted, generous, and benevolent to wish to do so; but I do firmly believe that such would be the effect of the course which he wishes to pursue. Sir, I do not advocate the ancient Jewish observance of the Sabbath, nor even the extreme strictly puritanical observance of the day referred to by my hon. Friend. I am aware that in the present state of society there are certain duties that must be performed, and a certain amount of work which must be done. But I think it is alike our interest and our duty to secularize the day as little as possible, and to avoid all unnecessary work involving additional labour on the working classes. In conclusion, may I be permitted to read a short extract from an essay upon the advantages of the Sabbath, written by a working man—Suppose the Sabbath were to be, by all people, consentaneously abolished; let the railway trains, as on other days, dart athwart the land; let the tide of commerce, unarrested, flow: let the hives of industry still swarm; let the clangour of machinery and the deafening roar of trade continue to resound; let the tramp of traffic still go on; let the greedy grasp their gains, and the slaves go groaning beneath their fetters; in short, lot the contentious world proceed as at other times. And what would be the upshot of all this? Should we be the happier? the healthier? the freer? the richer? Would any one of the ends of our terrestrial existence be in any degree facilitated thereby? Would the selfishness of man, unchecked and unreproved, be less grinding or cruel? Would the oppressor be less tyrannical? Would any of the acknowledged evils of society be diminished 525 one iota? Would the competitions, the rivalries, and the heart burnings of men he less crushing and ruinous? Alas, no. Every evil under which we now writhe would be aggravated; every carnal passion would then have full swing; every undamped lust would then burn with increased intensity; health would be prematurely blasted; the nobility of man would be annihilated; and the glorious energies of his immortal spirit would be hopelessly imprisoned. Mammon and Bacchus might continue to be diligently served; but God would be unworshipped! Mankind, thus ingloriously wedded to the world, would through all their lives grovel in the dust, and never devoutly raise their foreheads to the Temple of the Sky! ….. Help, ye wearied children of Labour! Help, ye Christian ministers and philanthropists! Help, ye statesmen and legislators! Help, ye British patriots, whose hearts yearn for the welfare of your suffering kind! Help! that the most distant approach to such a state of things as we have just surmised may be prevented, and that the blessed advantages chartered by the Sabbath may be faithfully preserved and zealously extended.Sir, I have now only to add that, on behalf of the Christianity which has made us what we are as a nation, on behalf of humanity, on behalf of temperance and sobriety, on behalf of good order, social enjoyment, and domestic happiness, on behalf of the education of the young, on behalf of tens of thousands of working men, and on behalf of everything that is pure and lovely and of good report, I oppose the Motion of my hon. Friend, and have pleasure in seconding the Amendment.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, that the line taken by the hon. Member for Leicester, who bad brought forward this Motion, rendered it impossible for him to give a silent vote, introduced as it was in that tone of trenchant, boisterous jollity, with which the House was so familiar. The hon. Member had laid down that there were only two classes of people in the world—sour, austere, Judaic-minded Sabbatarians, and Christians—which meant those who voted for his Motion, though they might not believe in a single item of the Christian faith. He absolutely repudiated this distinction, and himself holding very strong anti-Sabbatarian views, was nevertheless unable to vote for the Motion. It was one which would, he believed, be productive of an amount of strife and ill-will incommensurate with any possible benefit. The words of this fragmentary Resolution were of the vaguest possible kind, without beginning and without end. It talked of opening the museums, 526 without definition or distinction between those in public and those in private hands. Would the proposal include Dr. Kahn's as well as the British Museum? He would, however, give a little common sense to the Resolution, by supposing that it contemplated the opening of our national galleries and museums for the benefit of classes who had already the means of healthful Sunday recreation in the Parks, at Kew, and elsewhere. Now, he thought there was, on principle, no more harm in looking at a picture on Sunday than in looking at a field. It was simply a matter of arrangement, which ought to be based on considerations of general advantage, and it should only be carried out, if at all, with popular assent. The scheme of the hon. Member fulfilled neither of these conditions, but would merely impose work upon a great many people whose Sundays were now free. A good many opportunities of Sunday recreation were now open, and he would not shut one of them; but the adoption of this Resolution would cause a great shock in many quarters, it would provoke a re-action, and throwus back upon the Puritan Sabbath, by checking the healthy development of that Christian Sunday which had root in England. It was in no spirit of insular self-sufficiency that he believed that the truest type of the Christian Lord's Day was to be found in the English Sunday of non-Sabbatarians. Their attention had been called to the extent to which artizans worked on the Continental Sunday; but there was another aspect of the matter not less worth notice—namely, the total absence of any idea of giving Sunday rest to the domestics in well-to-do Continental households. Looking, then, at the English Sunday, in comparison with the less satisfactory Sundays both of Scotland and of France, he very much feared wrecking it by a collision with either. He could not, moreover, disguise from himself the fact that among those who were prominent in promoting this movement were Secularists and Materialists and others, which the Bill embodied, whose object was not to hallow religion by innocent recreation, but, on the contrary, to do what they could to undermine all religious obligations; and on this account, too, he should record his vote against the proposal.
§ MR. LOCKE
said, that before the House went to a division he was anxious to say a word or two on the remarks which had fallen from the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. He said he was very much in favour of what the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Taylor) proposed. He admitted that there would be nothing very wrong in the opening of museums on Sundays, and that it would be a good thing for purposes of instruction; but he did not like the source from which it came. And that was nearly the only observation the hon. Member made. He sincerely hoped that if his hon. Friend the Member for Leicester should not be successful with his Motion, the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Beresford Hope) would bring forward the Motion himself hereafter. He had said everything he could in favour of it, and everything disagreeable concerning the hon. Gentleman who brought the Motion itself forward. He (Mr. Locke) submitted that it would be a good thing to place museums on the same footing with other institutions of a similar character which had been adverted to in the course of the debate. He thought that no argument whatever had been made out against the Motion. It had been admitted that the object was a desirable one in itself; but because religious people might not like it the people ought not to enjoy it. He thought this was a measure that ought to be carried out, and he should be glad if it received the sanction of Parliament.
§ MR. M. J. STEWART
said, he would trespass on the House for but a short period, in order to make one or two remarks on the speech of the hon. Member for Leicester. He could not remain comfortable in his place, after the expressions of the hon. Member in advancing what he conceived to be reasons for his Motion, without saying a few words respecting it. The hon. Member must have seen—from the fact that all speeches except the last were against him—that the general feeling of the House was against his Motion, and he believed the people of Scotland and of England were against it also. His opinion was that this question ought to be considered from a working-man's point of view—the only class which the hon. Member for Leicester proposed to benefit by his Motion. He (Mr. Stewart) had an intimate ac- 528 quaintance with the working classes, and he was convinced that if they could consult the people of this country they would have an almost unanimous verdict that instead of wishing museums and places of recreation open on Sunday, they wished that those places should be shut. It had been argued that the people of this country must be better educated; but the people of this country were never better educated than at present, and if they required better education, it was not by Sunday visiting of museums and National Galleries that they would get it. He very much doubted even if such places of recreation were to be thrown open on Sundays, the people would go inside them—they would keep their day of rest elsewhere. At this hour, he would not detain the House further; but he was perfectly convinced that it was not the wish of the people of Scotland nor of the people of England that these places should be open on the Sunday, and he believed that very few Members would show their agreement with the hon. Member by going into the same Lobby with him.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, a few evenings ago he had asked why the Raphael Cartoons which had been open to view at Hampton Court could not be seen on Sundays, now that they had been removed to South Kensington Museum, and the Vice President of the Council had stated that the answer of the Government would be given in connection with the present debate. He begged to ask what it was.
MR. ASSHETON CROSS
said, the House seemed so impatient for a division that there was no opportunity for any statement to be made on behalf of the Government.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 68; Noes 271: Majority 203.
§ Words added.
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Resolved, That this House, while of opinion that all possible facilities should be afforded for the moral and intellectual recreation of the people by opening Museums, Libraries, and similar institutions on week-days, and, where safe and practicable, on week-day evenings, considers it undesirable that any change should be made in the existing arrangements for closing them on Sundays.